I chose to analyse the website on Plimoth Plantation because of my interest in the early settling of New England. The major features of the website are listed in headings at the top, as follows: “plan your visit,” “what to see & do,” “learn,” “please support,” and “stay connected.” Subcategories include: “are you a virtual passenger?”; “the voyage that made a nation”; “the Plimoth Grist Mill”; “they knew they were pilgrims;” “people of the dawn”; “experience Plimoth Plantation”; and finally, “eat, drink, and give thanks.” Also present is the link for News & Events, featuring information about current events taking place at the museum like a lecture on coyotes of the area, as well as an upcoming harpist concert.
The stated goal of the website is for the present to be influenced by knowledge of the past; Plimoth Plantation’s mission statement is: You can’t change history, but it could change you. Scrolling down to the “about us” section of the page is information on the Museum started by Henry Hornblower II in 1947 as two English cottages and a fort on Plymouth’s historic waterfront; now the museum contains the Mayflower II, the English Village, the Wampanoag Homesite, the Hornblower Visitor Center, the Craft Center, the Maxwell and Nye Barns, and the Plimoth Grist Mill.1 The purpose of Plimoth Plantation is to spark the imagination, delight the senses, touch the heart, and enrich the mind of patrons while exhibits tell the complex and interwoven cultures of the English and Native.2
The major themes that structure the website pertain the sub-headings I mentioned above, the first being the virtual passenger tab. When you click “get on board,” information is displayed under the title “Save Our Ship! Get on Board!” Asking for donations to restore the Mayflower II to its utmost glory by 2020 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ voyage. Below is a video detailing the processes associated with restoring the Mayflower II and a link to “donate now.” My interpretation of this sub-category being first concerned with donations is that Plimoth Plantation is just like any other museum or cultural centre – money is always an issue and it can be thrown in the faces of patrons at times. The next sub-category on the homepage was on the “voyage that made a nation,” with the link “Welcome aboard Mayflower II” which I clicked on. On the next page was background information on the original Mayflower that sailed to Plymouth in 1620, which unfortunately, no longer exists. Informative material on the Mayflower II followed, and below were quotes from Nathaniel Philbrick and William Bradford, followed by more on the Mayflower II, referencing the Emmy-nominated PBS series Colonial House. Next was the “Plimoth Grist Mill” with the link “Cornmeal and Sampe,” a page about the brand-new mill which tells the story of the grist (corn-grinding) mill built by the Pilgrims. Plimoth Plantation also features homemade cornmeal and sampe that vistitors can purchase, which I’m sure are delicious! The following sub-category, “They knew they were pilgrims,” with the link to “explore 17th century Plimoth” focuses on the recreation of the village along the shore of Plymouth in 1627 where timber-framed houses are furnished with reproductions of objects the Pilgrims owned. Also present are people that work at the museum who are full of knowledge and eagerly talk about the 17th century lives to patrons. At the bottom of the page is a passage written by Emmannuel Altham who visited Plymouth in 1623. “People of the dawn” was the nexct subject with the link to “Visit the Wampanoag Homesite,” with information on how the 17th-century Wampanoag would have lived along the coast during the growing season; planting their crops, fishing and hunting, gathering wild herbs and berries for food, and reeds for making mats and baskets. It is also noted that unlike the people in the 17th-century English village, the staff in the Wampanoag Homesite